HISTORY OF THE SABBATH
AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

4th edition

PART II

CHAPTER XVI - The Lord's Day of the Fathers


In this chapter

THE LORD'S DAY OF THE FATHERS

CHAPTER XVI

Pages
(342-344)... State of Christianity at the beginning of the third century
(344)..........The Roman Bishop sacrastically called "pontifex maximus"
(344-345)...Eastern Sun-worship at its height in Rome
(345-346)... Why Sunday is called the Lord's day.
(346-347)... The Lord of Bishops and the Lord of Days
(347).......... The day of the birth of Light
(347-349)... Clement of Alexandria
(349-350)... Clement's Mystical Numbers
(350-353)... The Prophetic Day of Plato
(353-355)... The mystic (Gnostic) Lord's Day
(355-356)... Tertullian the Lawyer
(356-357)... Tertullian's Contradictions
(357-360)... Tertullian's Position on the Sabbath
(360-361)... Pagans' and Christians' Affiliated Worship (worship toward the east
(362)..........Distancing Themselves from Jews, joining Pagans
(362-363)... Christians Mingle with the Heathen in their Festivities
(363-367)... Ancient Custom and Unwritten Tradition
(367-368)... Origen
(368-370)... Origen's Spiritual Lord's Day and Festivals
(370-371)... Cyprian
(371).......... Commodian's Lord's Day
(371-372)... Victorin's Assumptions
(372).......... Peter of Alexandria
(373-377)... Position of the Fathers reviewed
(377-379)... Conclusion Drawn

STATE OF CHRISTIANITY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE THIRD CENTURY

Christianity, at the very threshold of the third century, found itself in a mighty ferment of transition. As to its growth, one of its apologists could say:

“We are a people of yesterday and yet we have filled every place belong to you--cities, islands, castles, towns, assemblies, your very camp, your tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum. We leave you your temples only. We can count your armies; our numbers in a single province will be greater.” 1

Though there was some rhetorical exaggeration in this, yet by the end of the century, one tenth of the population of the Roman empire professed Christianity. Although rapidly growing in numbers, yet more rapidly it lost in spiritual power. The Catholic Church was forming with definite creed, and although the leading bishops had preserved their independence, still the primacy of the bishop of Rome was coming more and more to the front. No great men ruled in “the chair of Peter,” the eminent leaders of thought resided in Alexandria and northern Africa, and yet the mystic power of the capital of the Caesars supplied all lack.

Strange to say, the very men who developed the fundamental principles on which the Catholic Church was built, strenuously opposed the encroachments of the Roman bishop, and even broke with the Church of Rome.
Tertullian established the principle of tradition, compared the church to the ark of Noah, and --ended in Montanism.
Clement and Origen laid down the philosophical principles of Bible interpretation, declared that there was no salvation outside of the church, and -- were excommunicated.
Cyprian, assuming the superiority of Peter over the other apostles as the one upon whom the church should rest and who should feed the flock, transferred this superiority to the bishop of Rome as the successor of Peter, and called the Roman Church the chair of Peter, the fountainhead of priestly unity, and the root and mother of the Catholic Church; and yet it was only his martyrdom that saved him from being denounced as a heretic.

The Catholic Church became a great political commonwealth in which the gospel and the Bible merely had a place, besides other things. The true principle that “out of Christ there is no salvation,” Cypian had restricted to “out of the church there is no salvation,” and it was fast becoming, “out of the Roman church there is no salvation.”

TERTULLIAN SARCASTICALLY CALLS THE POPE "PONTIFEX MAXIMUS"

This transition was not without opposition. Montanists, claiming to have the Comforter and the gifts of the Spirit, and the Novatianists, asserting that they were the Cathari (the Puritans), are eloquent witnesses as to the apostasy of the church. The arrogance of the Roman bishop had already become so apparent that Tertullian calls him, in irony, “pontifex maximus” and “bishop of the bishops.”

“In opposition to this (modesty), could I not have acted the dissembler? I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus -that is, the bishop of bishops -issues an edict: "I remit, to such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication.”…Why, then, do they withal grant indulgence, under the name of repentance, to crimes for which they furnish remedies by their law of multinuptialism? (On Modesty).

EASTERN SUN-WORSHIP AT ITS HEIGHT IN ROME

Another matter needs to be taken into consideration. At the beginning of the third century, sun-worship had risen already to such a height in the Roman empire hat the name of its emperor, Elagabalus (A.D. 218-222), meant really god of the sun. He elevated his sun-god Emesa over all Roman deities, of which Gibbon gives a minute description.

"The Sun was worshipped Emesa, under the name of Elagabalus, and under the form of a black conical stone, which, as it was universally believed, had fallen from heaven on that sacred place. To this protecting deity, Antoninus, not without some reason, ascribed his elevation to the throne. The display of superstitious gratitude was the only serious business of his reign. The triumph of the god of Emesa over all the religions of the earth was the great object of his zeal and vanity; and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he presumed as pontiff and favourite to adopt that sacred name) was dearer to him than all the title of Imperial greatness. In a solemn procession through the streets of Rome the way was strewed with gold-dust; the black stone, set in precious gems, was placed on a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned. The pious emperor held the reins, and, supported by his ministers moved slowly backwards, that he might perpetually enjoy the felicity of the divine presence. In a magnificent temple raised on the Palatine Mount, the sacrifices of the god Elagabalus were celebrated with every circumstance of cost and solemnity. The richest wines, the most extra-ordinary victims, and the rarest aromatics, were profusely consumed on his altar. Around the altar a chorus of Syrian damsels performed their lascivious dances to the sound of barbarian music, whilst the gravest personages of the state and army, clothed in long Phoenician tunics, officiated in the meanest functions with affected zeal and secret indignation. 2

How far this was carried by the end of this century, and what effect it had on Christinity Milman thus sets forth: "From Christianity, the new paganism had adopted the unity of the Deity, and scrupled not to degrade all the gods of the older world into subordinate demons or ministers. The Christians had incautiously held the same language: both concurred in the name of the demons; but the pagans used the term in the Platonic sense, as good but subordinate spirits, while the same term spoke to the Christian ear as expressive of malignant and diabolic agency. But the Jupiter Optimus Maximus was not the great supreme of the new system. The universal deity of the East, the sun, to the philosophic was the emblem or representative; to the vulgar, the Deity. [Emperor] Diocletian himself. . .appealed in the face of the army to the all-seeing deity of the sun. It is the oracle of Apollo of Miletus, consulted by the hesitating emperor, which is to decide the fate of Christianity. The metaphorical language of Christianity had unconsciously lent strength to this new adversary; and in adoring the visible orb, some, no doubt, supposed that they were not departing far from the worship of the ‘sun of Righteousness.’” 3

WHY SUNDAY IS CALLED THE LORD'S DAY

As the sun thus became at the same time so eminently the lord over all other Roman deities, it was but policy to give this child of syncretism the attractive title Lord’s day. This phase of the question is very candidly set forth by H. Gunke, Dr., Th., in the following manner:--

"How has it happened that the day of the resurrection was celebrated just weekly? How is it to be explained that this day was named the Lord’s day? All of these difficulties are cleared up as soon as we attempt to investigate the matter on a religio-historical basis. If, in another Oriental religion, we should hear about the celebration of Sunday, and then should raise the question, ‘What kind of a Lord is it after whom Sunday was called the Lord’s day?’ we would at once find the answer: This lord is a god, the sun-god. The idea that effeminate days appertain to definite gods, manifestly lies very near to the na´ve religious manner of thinking, and at that time it was everywhere prevalent in the Orient. According to one of the Babylonian calendars, Sunday, as its name still indicates, was regarded as essentially the day of the sun-god. If the ancient church celebrated Sunday, it indirectly took over with it the celebration of the old day in honor of the gods.” “But a very important evidence that the observance of the first day of the week is of foreign origin (in particular a religion of the sun) is its analogy to the Mithraic mysteries, in which also this same day was celebrated,” “The taking over of Sunday by the early Christians is, to my mind, an exceedingly important symptom that the early church was directly influenced by a spirit which does not originate in the gospel, nor in the Old Testament, but in a religious system foreign to it. 4

THE LORD OF BISHOPS AND THE LORD OF DAYS

In such a favourable period, Sunday, the child of Christian tradition, and in its claims closely related to those of the Roman bishop, its earliest champion, and the pagan sun-day, came rapidly to the front. The Papacy and the Sunday are both strange seeds transplanted from pagan into Christian soil; both were not only Christianized, but became the ruling factors of Christianity.
While Cyprian attempted to trace the line of Roman bishops back to the days of Peter, Justin could bring forward no such claim for the day of the sun; but it did not need such claim, being the wild solar day of all pagan times. Popular as it was in the world, it arose on the very principles laid down by men of thought for the up building of the Catholic Church; and when the Roman bishop became the lord of bishops, and the sun became the ruling deity in the Roman pagan world, Sunday became the lord of the days -- the Lord’s day.

The memorial days in vogue both in Israel and among the pagans--natural products of human admiration--supplied the motive; the Gnostic “new law,” the theory; Greek learning, the philosophy, the Roman bishop, the ecclesiastical authority; and the wild solar day of all pagan times, the popularity of the new institution: while on the other hand, the bigotry and the downfall of the Jewish nation made the Sabbath of the Lord unpopular. The civil authority of the imperial pontifex maximus was the only thing yet lacking to make it universal. But that Sunday is indeed the child of an amalgamation between Christianity and paganism brought about by the philosophers, the consideration of this period will fully establish.

THE DAY OF THE BIRTH OF LIGHT

By this time Christian philosophers had become the luminaries of the world, because, in their estimation, Greek philosophers had been Christian philosophers before Christianity. Especially in Alexandria the highest philosophy of the Greeks was placed under the protection and guaranty of the church, and we must expect, therefore, clear indications of this amalgamation. Accordingly we read.

"They therefore are ministers and worshipers of the Divinity who offer the freest and most royal worship, viz., that which is rendered by devoutness both of purpose and of knowledge (gnosis). Every place, then, every time at which we entertain the thought of God is truly hallowed.” “And since the east symbolizes the day of birth, and it is from thence that the light spreads, after it has first shone forth out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:6), aye, and from thence that the day of the knowledge of the truth dawned like the SUN upon those who were lying in ignorance (Matt. 4:16), therefore our prayers are directed toward the rise of dawn. It was for this reason that the most ancient temples looked toward the west in order that they who stood facing the images might be taught to turn eastward." 5

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA

These are the words of Clement (A.D. 194), the leader of the Alexandrian school of theology. What a contrast to Eze. 8:15-18! Greek philosophy and perverted Scriptural teaching combine to popularize Christianity by setting forth its affinity with paganism, and sun-worship affiliated with the light of the gospel to form the basis of union.

Mosheim, in commenting on the writings of Clement, sets this forth in these words:

"He may even be placed at the head of those who devoted themselves to the cultivation of philosophy with an ardour that knew no bounds, and were so blind and misguided as to engage in the hopeless attempt of producing and accommodation between the principles of philosophical science and those of the Christian religion. He himself expressly tells us in his ‘Stromata,’ that he would not hand down Christian truth pure and unmixed, but ‘associated with, or rather veiled by, and shrouded under, the precepts of philosophy. For, according to him, the rudiments, or seeds, of celestial wisdom communicated by Christ to the world, lay hid in the philosophy of the Greeks, after the same manner as the esculent part of a nut lies concealed within a shell.” 6

From Schaff we quote the following concerning Clement's theology:

"His theology, however, is not a unit, but a confused eclectic mixture of true Christian elements with many Stoic, Platonic, and Philonic ingredients,” “He shows here an affinity with the heathen mystery cultus, and the Gnostic arcane.” 7

Clement attributes the Book of Wisdom to Solomon, and Baruch, to Jeremiah. He calls Plato “all but an evangelical prophet,” and last, but not least, he is the first to quote the Didache and Barnabas as having Scriptural authority. If the apostle Barnabas could be made accountable for producing such a writing as the epistle put forth under his name, wherein we found the first witness for Sunday, then Clement of Alexandria, a century later, was surely justified in enlarging upon the mystic eighth day, and turning it into a mystic Lord’s day. The very title of Clement’s book in which this wonderful change is set forth is suggestive in itself, “Stromata,” “gay-colored tapestry.” It is indeed a gaudy patchwork of quotations from history, poetry, philosophy, Christian truths, and heretical error, and is fitly translated by the word miscellanies. In these books he professes to set forth a guide to the deeper gnosis of Christianity, and he claims that this knowledge is the “true tradition of the blessed doctrine which has been received immediately from Peter, James, John, and Paul, and has been transmitted to him.”

CLEMENT'S MYSTICAL NUMBERS

One of his efforts is to find a mystical sense in all sorts of figures. There are mysteries in the number ten. There is a “ten” in heaven, in the earth, and in man. There are mysteries in the ark, as it contained the ten commandments; there are also mysteries in the two tables of stone, for they had engraved upon them the ten commandments. Six, seven, and eith are mysterious numbers. The fact that the letters of the Greek alphabet were also equivalent to numbers, he uses as a part of his argument. These mystic notions concerning numbers, which Philo carries to still more extravagant lengthes, can be traced not only to Plato and his followers, but to the true source of all mysticism -- the Orient.

Barnabas gives a fair sample of the mysticism; for he finds the cross and the word Jesus in the three hundred and eighteen servants of Abraham, The first two letter of the Greek word Jesus I and H, the first of which was used for 10, the second for 8, making 18; but the remaining 300 is represented by T, in the shape of which Barnabas pretends to see a resemblance to the cross. Clement, who considers Barnabas as apostolic authority quotes this absurd mysticism.

THE PROPHETIC DAY OF PLATO

In a similar manner cement fancies that he finds the Lord's day in an utterance of the pagan philosopher Plato, as is seen from the following:--

"And the Lord's day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: "And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days." By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day. And he says that souls are gone on the fourth day, pointing out the passage through the four elements. But the seventh day is recognised as sacred, not by the Hebrews only, but also by the Greeks; according to which the whole world of all animals and plants revolve." 8

All the numbers employed here possess a mysterious meaning, according to the Gnostic theology. Plato, in his “Republic,” speaks of seven days, and an eighth day. Here is Clements’ golden moment to turn this utterance into a prophecy, and to transform the eighth day into the Lord’s day. To bring this about, the mystic meaning of “meadow” is said to be the “fixed sphere,” that is, the heavens, the future abode of the pious. The seven days are to be understood as the motions of the seven planets, and as such, represent this earthly pilgrimage of toil. The ancients recognized only seven planets, so that after these seven wandering orbs had been passed, the journey would naturally lead “to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day,” to the fixed sphere,-- the locality of the pious and their eternal home. The great period of eternity spent on this mild and genial spot is the Lord’s day, thus foretold by Plato. One is struck with the similarity of this to Barnabas’s seven thousand years, and the eighth day afterward. Thus the Lord’s day in reality represents, according to Clement, the future day of the Lord -- eternity.

But immediately after making this statement, Clement quotes a number of Greek philosophers to prove that the number seven was sacred not only to the Hebrews, but also to the Greeks; some of these testimonies, however, cannot be found in the writings quoted.

But Clement uses the term Lord’s day once more; and as he represents Christian gnosticism, as well as the theological school in Alexandria, of which he was the head, his position with regard to the observance of fasts and holidays is not simply personal, but represents the leading Alexandrian thought. Clement indorsed the Didache as a part of Scripture. As this enjoins fasting on the fourth and sixth days of the week, he had to interpret it, which he does in this manner;--

The Gnostic understands also the enigmas of the fasts of those days -- I mean the Fourth and the Preparation day. For the one has its name from Hermes (Mercury), and the other from Aphrodite (Venus). He fasts in his life, in respect of covetousness and from lust, the sources from which all the vices grow. 9

As, in heathen mythology, Mercury is the god of commerce and Venus the god of beauty and love, playing on this, Clement justifies the position of the Gnostic, who repudiates literal fasting and, instead, abstains “from covetousness and from lust.” After dwelling a little longer on the subject of fasting, he thus connects with it his position with reference observing a day in honor of the resurrection;”--

He, [the Gnostic] in fulfilment of the precept, according to the Gospel, [by abstaining from evil instead of fasting outwardly] keeps the Lord's day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself. 10

There were Christians in Alexandria at that time who did literally fast on the fourth and sixth day of the week, and who celebrated the first day of the week in commemoration of the resurrectio; but the head of the theological school taught, in clear oposition to this, that true fasting consisted in abstaining from bad deeds, and that the true commemoration of the resurrection was to experience the power of the resurrection in our daily life.

That we have given the true meaning of his words is clearly shown by another statement of his, where he contrasts the Gnostics with other Christians. Of the Gnostic he says that it was “not on special days, as some others, but doing this continually in our whole life,” and “no in a specified place, or selected temple, or at certain festivals, and on appointed days, but during his whole life. 11

THE MYSTIC (GNOSTIC) LORD'S DAY

With this in mind, we are no prepared to listen to an explanation which he gives concerning the fourth commandment, in his “Gnostic Exposition of the Decalogue:”--

And the fourth commandment is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest--the cessation of evil--preparing for the Primal Day of new beginning; our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of real light, in which all things are seen, and all things received as our inheritance. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth--a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, for the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we are set free from affliction; and this is to rest.
"Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath, and the seventh a day of work.”12

The true object of the seventh day in the beginning was to insure rest, because we meet in this life so much suffering and affliction. But true Sabbath rest is to cease from evil. Anyone doing this prepares for the gospel day of light. This gospel day, typified by the fact that God created light on the first day, is the new life of the Christian when he, enlightened by the Spirit, becomes sanctified through it. This frees his whole life from affliction, and brings the true rest in Christ.

After giving this epitome, Clement, patchwork as his Miscellanies are, joins to it a play on numbers, which he afterward makes intelligible by using the Greek alphabet as a key. The first five letters of the Greek alphabet represent the numbers one to five; but with the number six, there is a break (six being represented by the letter sigma), but the regular order is taken up again from seven onward: thus, following the regular alphabetical order six drops out entirely; seven (zeta) becomes six, and eight (eta), seven. While this is the case, seven as Clement has shown all through his book, signifies, as the perfect number, rest, even though by following the order of the Greek alphabet, it maybe six., On the other hand, eight, although it may in this manner become seven, means working. So the mysterious eight in not a day of rest but a day of work to him who, as a Gnostic, experiences the power of the resurrection every day, and lives continually the Lord’s life.

Biased by an unscriptural theory some First-day writers pervert this Gnostic philosopher of Alexandria into a champion of their case. Gilfillan, for example makes Clement say, “’The eight day appears rightly to be named the seventh, and to be the true Sabbath, but the seventh to be a working day,’”13
Rev. A.A. Phelps, in “An Argument for the Perpetuity of the Sabbath,” p. 159, finds in Clement the lacking gospel command for the Lord’s day, 14

It is a very striking coincidence that the first mention of Sunday as a mystic eighth day should be found in the Gnostic pseudo-Barnabas, and that the first mention of the term Lord’s day as a mystic day typifying the renewed life should be made by the Gnostic philosopher Clement of Alexandria, the very one who first indorsed this pseudo-epistle. With all the mysticism found in Clement, there is some irony in it, that this mystic Lord’s day adduced from an utterance of a pagan writer should, soon after, become the prominent title of the wild solar day of all pagan times.

TERTULLIAN THE LAWYER

From Alexandria, we turn our eyes to Carthage, which vies with its ancient rival, Rome, for the horn of supplying, in Tertulllian, a very gifted lawyer, the father of Latin Christianity and church language. Schaff gives the following description of his character and strange contrarieties:--

"Tertullian was a rare genius, perfectly original and fresh, but angular, boisterous, and eccentric. . .Like almost all great men, he combines strange contrarieties of character." "He did not shrink from insulting the greatest natural gift of God to man by his 'I believe because it is absurd'. And yet reason does him invaluable service against his antagonists. He vindicates the principle of church authority and tradition with great force and ingenuity against all heresy; yet, when a Montanist, he claims for himself with equal energy the right of private judgment and of individual protest. He has vivid sense of the corruption of human nature and the absolute need of moral regeneration; yet he declares the soul to be born Christian, and unable to find rest except in Christ….he adopts the strictest supernatural principles; and yet he is a most decided realist.” 15

He embraced Christianity in middle life, but soon afterward, between 199 and 203 A.D., became a Montanist. Schaff gives the following reasons for this;--

"But Tertullian was inclined to extremes from the first especially to moral austerity. He was no doubt attracted by the radical contempt for the world, the strict asceticism, the severe discipline, the martyr enthusiasm, and the chiliasm of the Montanists, and was repelled by the growing conformity to the world in the Roman Church." 16

TERTULLIAN’S CONTRADICTIONS

That Tertullian blew hot and cold, A. Harnack thus testifies:--

"In the questions as to the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, of Christ to the apostles, of the apostles to each other, of the Paraclete to Christ and the apostles, he was also of necessity involved in the greatest contradictions. This was the case not only because he went more into details than Irenaeus; but, above all, because the chains into which he had thrown his Christianity were felt to be such by himself. This theologian had no greater opponent than himself, and nowhere perhaps is this so plain as in his attitude to the two Testaments. Here, in every question or detail, Tertullian really repudiated the proposition from which he starts,” “Tertullian strove to reconcile the principles of early Christianity with the authority of ecclesiastical tradition and philosophical apologetics. Separated from the general body of the church, and making ever increasing sacrifices for the early Christian enthusiasm, as he understood it, he wasted himself in the solution of this insoluble problem,” 17

[Note Tertullian's contradictory position on the Decalogue law, in his "On Modesty" chapter 5, with concepts we will later see in his other works:

Of how deep guilt, then, adultery-which is likewise a matter of fornication, in accordance with its criminal function-is to be accounted, the Law of God first comes to hand to show us; if it is true, (as it is), that after interdicting the superstitious service of alien gods, and the making of idols themselves, after commending (to religious observance) the veneration of the Sabbath, after commanding a religious regard toward parents second (only to that) toward God, (that Law) laid, as the next substratum in strengthening and fortifying such counts, no other precept than "Thou shall not commit adultery." For after spiritual chastity and sanctity followed corporeal integrity. And this (the Law) accordingly fortified, by immediately prohibiting its foe, adultery. Understand, consequently, what kind of sin (that must be), the repression of which (the Law) ordained next to (that of) idolatry…..in the very fore-front of the most holy law, among the primary counts of the celestial edict, marking it with the inscription of the very principal sins.]

TERTULLIAN’S POSITION ON THE SABBATH

Occupying such a contradictory position on the covenants, it is but natural that he contradicts himself also on the question of the law and the Sabbath. Two quotations will prove this:

“Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath; for even in the case before us (Matt. 12:10), he fulfilled the law, while interpreting its condition; moreover, he exhibits in a clear light the different kinds of work, while doing what the law excepts from the sacredness of the Sabbath, and while imparting to the Sabbath day itself, which from the beginning had been consecrated by the benediction of the Father, an additional sanctity by his own beneficent action. For he furnished to this day divine safeguards. . .Since, in like manner, the prophet Elisha on this day restored to life the dead son of the Shunammite woman, 18 You see, O Pharisee, and you too, O Marcion, how that it was proper employment for the Creator’s Sabbaths of old to do good, to save life, not to destroy it; how that Christ introduced nothing new, which was not after the example, the gentleness, the mercy, and the prediction also of the Creator.” 19

But to the Jews he writes:--

“For the Jews say that from the beginning God sanctified the seventh day by resting on it from all his works which he made; and that thence it was, likewise, that Moses said to the people: ‘Remember the day of the Sabbaths, to sanctify it; every servile work ye shall not do therein, except what pertained unto life.’ Whence we [Christians] understand that we still more ought to observe a Sabbath from all ‘servile work’ always and not only every seventh day, but through all time. And through this arises the question for us, what Sabbath God willed us to keep. For the Scriptures point to a Sabbath eternal and a Sabbath temporal. For Isaiah…says, Your Sabbaths ye have profaned’. Whence we discern that the temporal Sabbath is human and the eternal Sabbath is accounted divine, concerning which he predicts through Isaiah: ‘And there shall be….month after month, and day after day, and Sabbath after Sabbath; and all flesh shall come to adore in Jerusalem, saith the lord:’ which we understand to have been fulfilled in the times of Christ, when ‘all flesh’--that is every nation-- ‘came to adore in Jerusalem’ God the Father, through Jesus Christ his Son, as was predicted through the prophet: ‘Behold proselytes through me shall go unto thee". Thus, therefore, before this temporal Sabbath, there was withal an eternal Sabbath foreshown and foretold; just as before the carnal circumcision there was withal a spiritual circumcision foreshown. In short, let them teach us. . .that Adam observed the Sabbath, or that Abel, when offering to God a holy victim, pleased him by a religious reverence for the Sabbath." "Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance I perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law." 20

Answering Marcion, the Gnostic, Tertullian shows how the Sabbath was consecrated by the Father at the beginning for the good of man, and how Christ only added addition sanctity and divine safeguards to the day. But in answering the Jews, he takes the Gnostic position-- a perpetual spiritual Sabbath, not “exemption from work on a specific weekly Sabbath,” But as to the difference between temporal and eternal Sabbaths, this is in no wise between the Sabbath of the Decalogue and some perpetual Sabbath, beginning with the advent of Christ-- a conclusion which Tertullian only reaches by misapplying Isa, 66:23. This text, as is seen from verse 22, applies not to the time of Christ, but to the new earth. There were temporal Sabbaths-- those of the ceremonial law.

After having thus rationalized away the observance of a literal Sabbath, and after considering some prophecies concerning the true spiritual sacrifice, in chapter 6 Tertullian proceeds in his demonstrate to rationalize the abolition of the old law. In like manner, as there was a Sabbath temporal and a Sabbath eternal, there is also a law temporal and law eternal, and there was time to come “whereat the precepts of the ancient law and of the old ceremonies would cease, and the sending forth {promissio} of the new law, and the recognition of spiritual sacrifices, and the promise of the New Testament, supervene,” Then he goes into the details about this new law, as follows:--

"And indeed, first we must inquire whether there be expected a giver of the new law, and an heir of the new testament, and a priest of the new sacrifices, and a purger of the new circumcision, and an observer of the eternal Sabbath, to suppress the old law, and institute the new testament, and offer the new sacrifices, and repress the ancient ceremonies, and suppress the old circumcision together with its own Sabbath, and announce the new kingdom which is not corruptible. Inquire, I say, we must, whether this giver of the new law, observer of the spiritual Sabbath, priest of the eternal sacrifices, eternal ruler of the eternal kingdom, be come or no: that, if he already com. . .it be manifest that the old law’s precepts are suppressed, and that the beginnings of the new law ought to arise.”

We now have clearly before us Tertullian’s outline of a spiritual, eternal Sabbath of a spiritual, eternal law, both commencing with the new covenant. This law supposedly commands a perpetual spiritual Sabbath, but, according to Tertullian, this in no wise teaches, like the old law, a specific weekly Sabbath, demanding exemption from work. With this in mind, we are ready to proceed further.

PAGAN'S AND CHRISTIAN'S AFFILIATED WORSHIP--
WORSHIPING TOWARD THE EAST

While considering the origin of Sunday, we found that this day had been devoted to the worship of the sun in all pagan times. When, in the course of time, Christians began to have their worship on the same day, at the same time, and in the same position, it was but natural that they should be confounded with the worshipers of the Persian sun-god, Mithra. To meet this, Tertullian makes the following statement in his Apology, chap. 16, which is one of his oldest works:--

"Others, again, certainly with more information and greater verisimilitude, believe that the sun is our god. We shall be counted Persians, perhaps, though we do not worship the orb of day painted on a piece of linen cloth, having himself everywhere in his own disk. The idea no doubt has originated from our being known to turn to the east in prayer. But you, many of you, also under pretence sometimes worshiping the heavenly bodies, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise. In the same way, if we devote Sunday to rejoice, from a far different reason than sun-worship we have some resemblance to those of you who devote the day of Saturn to ease and luxury, though they too go far away from Jewish ways, of which indeed they are ignorant,”

This conformity in worship both as to the day and the attitude, Tertullian thus sets forth still more clearly in another book:--

"Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the God of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray toward the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this? Do not many among you, with an affectation of sometimes worshiping the heavenly bodies likewise, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have even admitted the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its day [Sunday] in preference to the preceding day, as the most suitable in the week for either an entire abstinence from the bath, or for its postponement until the evening, or for taking rest, and for banqueting. By resorting to these customs, you deliberately deviate from your own religious rites to those of strangers.’21

Tertullian addresses this book to those nations that are still in idolatry. His only defense for making Sunday a day of festivity, and praying toward the east, was "Do you do less than this?" It was the pagans who admitted the sun into the calendar of the week. They selected Sunday in preference to the preceding day, the Sabbath, and made it a day of festivity. How could they, then, chide the Christians for doing likewise, especially as these customs really came from the Orient? This proves beyond question what we presented in the previous chapter regarding the origin of Sunday.

DISTANCING THEMSELVES FROM JEWS, JOINING PAGANS

As many Christians still observed the Sabbath, and all Christians used the Old Testament, it was very natural for them to be confounded with the Jews. Tertullian is exceedingly careful to clear this matter up in the twenty-first chapter of his Apology:--

"We neither accord with the Jews in their peculiarities with regard to food, nor in their sacred days.” But what effect it had when Christians no longer observed the Sabbath of the Lord, but joined with pagans in devoting Sunday to a sacred purpose, though from far different reasons, Tertullian sets forth in his book on Idolatry, chapter 14:--

The Holy Spirit upbraids the Jews with their holy-days. "Your Sabbaths, and new moons, and ceremonies," says He, "My soul hateth." By us, to whom Sabbaths are strange, and the new moons and festivals formerly beloved by God, the Saturnalia and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are frequented—presents come and go—New-year's gifts—games join their noise—banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself! Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens! If any indulgence is to be granted to the flesh, you have it. I will not say your own days, but more too; for to the heathens each festive day occurs but once annually: you have a festive day every eighth day.”

CHRISTIANS MINGLE WITH THE HEATHEN IN THEIR FESTIVITIES

The heathen would not join the Christians in any way, lest they should seem to be Christians, but the so-called Christians had already so far apostatized that they frequented with the heathen the Saturnalia, New-year’s and midwinter festivals, and Matronalia, annual festivals to the sun and to other deities, shared in the banqueting, and imitated their customs of exchanging gifts. So the very effect of joining the pagans in their devotions on Sunday was to let down the bars which God had put up, and to lead them to join the heathen in their anniversaries held in honor of the sun. Surely Tertullian had every reason to cry out, “O, better fidelity of the heathen to their own sect!”

But strange to say, it is in the midst of all this apostasy that we find the term Lord’s day first clearly applied to Sunday. Though this was done for some reason, one thing is certain, that it was to because it was sacredly regarded. Even Tertullian had to admit that the heathen were more true to their sect than were the Christians to their faith. And we notice that the Lord’s day appears on an equal footing with Pentecost, as a festive day, a season of rejoicing.

ANCIENT CUSTOM AND UNWRITTEN TRADITION

But we have a still more striking instance in which Tertullian is forced to reveal to us the foundation on which Sunday observance rests, in his book on The Soldier's Crown. It was customary then, as it is now, on special occasions, for the soldiers to adorn their heads with laurel, myrtle, olive, with flowers, or with gems. During a review of the camp by the emperor, one Christian soldier had the courage to hold this crown simply in his hand, instead of placing it on the head. This led to his discharge. As there were many Christian soldiers who conformed to the custom, discontentment arose about this soldier’s refusal, and he was charged with having created trouble and brought reproach upon the Christian cause. No Bible text could be adduced to prohibit this standing custom. Tertullian, in reply, says, “If no scripture has determined this, assuredly custom has confirmed it, which, doubtless, has been derived from tradition.” “But,” says the objector, ‘even where tradition is pleaded, written authority ought to be required.”

This leads Tertullian to inquire “whether none, save a written tradition, ought to be received?” Then he continues:--

Certainly we shall deny that it ought to be received if there be no precedents to determine the contrary in their observances, which, without any Scripture document, we defend on the ground of tradition alone, and by the supports of consequent custom. In fact, to begin with baptism, when we are about to come to the water, in the same place, but at somewhat earlier time, we do in the church testify, under the hand of a chief minister, that we renounce the devil and his pomp and his angels. Then are we thrice dipped, pledging ourselves to something more than the Lord has prescribed in the gospel: then, some undertaking the charge of us, we first taste a mixture of honey and milk and from that day we abstain for a whole week from our daily washing. The sacrament of the Eucharist, commanded by the Lord at the time of supper, and to all, we receive even at our meetings before daybreak, and from the hands of no others than the heads of the church. We offer, on one day every year, oblations for the dead as birthday honors. On the Lord’s day we account it unlawful to fast or to worship upon the knees. We enjoy the same freedom from Easter day even unto Pentecost. We feel pained if any of the wine, or even of our bread, be spilled upon the ground. In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our forehead with the sign of the cross.
For these and such like rules if you require a law in the Scriptures, you shall find none. Tradition will be pleaded to you as originating them, custom as confirming them, and faith as observing them.”

Then Tertullian proceeds to add as another example, the fact that the ancient Jewish women had a veil upon their head, though there was no written law for it, and that Paul even sanctioned this custom. Then he concludes:--

By these examples therefore it will be declared that even an unwritten tradition may be maintained in its observance, being confirmed by custom, a sufficient witness of a tradition at the time approved by the continuance of the observance. But even in civil matters, custom is taken for law where there is no law: nor is there any difference whether it be founded in any writing or on reason, since it is reason which commands even written authority. Moreover, if law be founded in reason, then will all that is founded in reason, by whomsoever first brought forward, be law. Do you not think that any believer may have the power to conceive and to establish a thing, so it be agreeable to God, conducive to true religion, profitable to salvation, when the Lord says And why even of yourselves judge you not what is right? and this not as touching judgment only, but every opinion also on things coming under examination. So also says the apostle: If in anything you be ignorant, God shall reveal it unto you; he himself having been accustomed to supply counsel, when he had no commandment of the Lord, and to ordain certain things of himself, yet himself also having the Spirit of God, that guides into all truth. Wherefore his counsel and his ordinance have now obtained the likeness of a divine command, because supported by the reason which comes of God. Question now this reason, saving however you respect for tradition, form whomsoever dated as having delivered it: and regard not the author, but the authority and chiefly that of custom itself, which ought for this cause to be respected, because it may be the witness of reason: so that if it be God, who has given reason also, you may learn, not, whether the custom ought to be observed by you, but why the reason of Christian observances becomes greater than that of others, seeing that even nature, which is the first rule of all, defends them.”

We have here the very principles of tradition by which every custom of the Catholic Church came in, and the very principle on which the Reformers rested Sunday, as we shall see later. But to show the power which even the heathen sun-worship had upon its votaries, we will consider Tertullian’s words about the Mithra service and its adherents. He could use for the completion of his argument no better evidence than to appeal to the constancy of its adherents:

"Blush you, his fellow soldiers, who shall now stand condemned, not by him, but even by any soldier of Mithra, who, when he is enrolled in the cavern, the camp, in very truth, of darkness, when the crown is offered him (on a sword) and then fitted upon his head, is taught to put it aside from his head, meeting it with his hand, and to remove it, it may be, to his shoulder, saying that Mithra is his crown. And thence forth he never wears a crown, and he has this as a sign whereby he is approved, if at any time he is tried touching his military oath: and he is forthwith believed to be a soldier of Mithra, if he throws down his crown, if he declares that he has it in his God. See we the wiles of the devil, who pretends to some of the ways of God for this cause, that, through the faithfulness of his own servants, he may put us to shame and condemn us.” 22

We are now ready to listen to Tertullian's statement about Sunday observance:--

"We, however, (just as we have received) only on the Lord’s day of the resurrection [sol die dominico resurrexionis] ought to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude; deferring even our business, lest we give any place to the devil. Similarly, too, in the period of Pentecost; which period we distinguish by the same solemnity of exultation.” 23

We have now carefully investigated the writings of Tertullian. He has nothing but tradition to offer for Sunday. And more than this, as he was strong beleiver in the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit, and considers all reasonable actions formed under its influence as equal with the Scripture, his principle of continual tradition was wide enough to take in anything that might come along and suggest itself to be reasonable. What he says above about deferring our business we must understand in the light of his previous statement, that we ought to observe a spiritual Sabbath every day.

ORIGEN

Turning again to Alexandria, Origen (A.D. 231), a disciple of Clement, next claims our attention. On account of Clement’s flight and in view of his great ability, at the early age of nineteen he was placed at the head of that school. He was a very industrious student, never drinking wine, seldom eating meat, sleeping on the bare floor; and by his studious, ascetic life he became the greatest scholar of his age. He remained the exegetical oracle until Chrysostom surpassed him. Schaff thus points out the weakness of his exegesis:--

"His great defect is the neglect of the grammatical and historical sense, and his constant desire to find a hidden mystic meaning. He even goes further in this direction than the Gnostics, who everywhere saw transcendental, unfathomable mysteries. His hermeneutical principle assumes a threefold sense, . . .literal, moral and spiritual. His allegorical interpretation is ingenious, but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest caprice, while at time it gives way to the opposite extreme of a carnal literalism, by which he justifies his ascetic extravagance.” 24

Professor Harnack says of him:--

"He proclaimed the reconciliation of science with the Christian faith and the compatibility of the highest culture with the gospel within the bosom of the church, thus contributing more than any other to convert the ancient world to Christianity.” 25

As to his theology, Killen writes:--

"In his attempt to reconcile the gospel and his philosophy he miserably compromises some of the most important truths of Scripture.” “He maintained the pre-existence of human souls, he held that the stars are animated beings; he taught that all men shall ultimately attain happiness; and he believed that the devils themselves shall eventually be saved.” 26

ORIGEN'S SPIRITUAL LORD'S DAY AND FESTIVALS

From the testimonies adduced, no one must wonder at the following statement concerning his view of the Sabbath:--

There are countless multitudes of believers who. . .are most firmly persuaded that neither ought circumcision to be understood literally, nor the rest of the Sabbth, nor the pouring out of the blood of an animal, nor that answers were given by God to Moses on these points.” 27

And in his book against Celsus, he thus writes of the Sabbath rest:--

"For he [Celsus] knows nothing of the day of the Sabbath, and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world’s creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep festival with God who have done all their works in their six days, and who, because they have omitted none of their duties, will ascend to the contemplation of celestial things, and to the assembly of righteous and blessed beings.” 28 In book 5, chap, 59, he says:-- "With respect, however, to the creation of the world, and the rest which is reserved after it for the people of God,’ the subject is extensive, and mystical, and profound, and difficult of explanation.”

We now come to the one reference in which Origen makes allusions to a Lord’s day. Some one is supposed to charge him with inconsistency because, though Origen, in harmony with his understanding of Gal. 4:10, did not believe in the observance of any days, he paid some respect to the Lord’s day and other festivals. As Bishop Cox says:--

“This charge he evades rather than encounters in his reply, which, with the objection prefixed to it, is as follows: ‘But if any one should object against this what takes place among ourselves on the Lord’s days, or on preparation days, or on the days of the Passover or of Pentecost, the answer is, That the perfect Christian, who continually lives in the words, and works, and thoughts of the Word of God, his natural Lord, continually lives in his days, daily keeps a Lord’s day,” 29

In like manner he shows that the perfect Christian keeps the preparation day by preparing his self daily; also the Passover day by eating constantly the flesh of the Word’ and the day of Pentecost by praying daily for the outpouring of the Spirit. This distinction between a perfect and an imperfect Christian sheds much light on his position. An imperfect Christian keeps Sunday literally; a perfect Christian, by living a constant holy life, pays no respect to weekly or to annual festivals. The preference of such a Lord’s day over a literal Sabbath, Origen sets forth in his seventh homily on Exodus, par. 5: --

"It is plain from Holy Writ that manna was first given on earth on the Lord’s day. . .But if it be clear from the Holy Scriptures that God rained manna from heaven on the Lord’s day, and rained none on the Sabbath day, let the Jews understand that from that time our Lord’s day was set above the true Sabbath. . .For on our Lord’s day God always rains down manna from heaven. . .for the discourses which are delivered to us are from heaven; and the words which are preached to us have come down from God’ and hence we are blessed in receiving manna.”

CYPRIAN

Turning back to Carthage again, the next Father offering an argument for Sunday is Cyprian, A.D. 253. His tract on the “Unity of the Church” is the Magna Charta of the Roman primacy. But as he contended with the same zeal for an independent episcopate, and differed on the subject of heretical baptism, he brought homes into conflict with the See of Rome. He thus brings forward Justin’s old argument;--

"For in respect to the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is , the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the Spirit, the eight day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.” 30

His own maxim fits his case: "Custom without truth is the antiquity of error,”

COMMODIAN'S LORD'S DAY

Commodian, A.D. 270 is quoted by Hessey and Gilliland as using the term Lord’s day. So he does. He admonishes the rich to remember the poor brother, and I that connection he says, “What sayest thou of the Lord’s day?! 31
As he treats of the judgment in previous chapters, it is evident from the context that he refers t that. But First day writers are often very hard pressed for seeming proofs of their theories. He once speaks of Easter as the “day of ours most blessed,”

VICTORIN'S ASSUMPTIONS?

Bishop Victorin of Petau (A.D. 290) is so anxious not to appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews that, while apparently quoting Scripture, he makes a number of unfounded statements about it.

“Thus Moses, foreseeing the hardness of the people, on the Sabbath raised up his hands, and thus fastened himself to the cross:” further, that Jesus (Joshua) “himself broke the Sabbath day” at the siege of Jericho: and that Matthias “broke the Sabbath when he slew the prefect of Antiochus, king of Syria upon that day;” and finally he states that “in Matthew we read that it is written, Isaiah also and the rest of his colleagues broke the Sabbath-- that that true and just Sabbath should be observed in the seventh millenary of years.” For his statement about Matthew’s words, he refers to Matt. 12:3. But no such text can be found there. His fitting preparation for the Lord’s day was a rigorous fast on the Sabbath, as will be seen from the following: “On the former day [that is, Sabbath] we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks.” 32 This same bsihop wrote a commentary on Revelation , bt he has no comment whatever about the Lord’s day of Rev. 1:10.

PETER BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA

Peter, bishop of Alexandria, A.D. 300, closes the list of witnesses by saying, “We keep the Lord’s day as a day of joy because of Him who rose thereon." 33

POSITION OF THE FATHER'S REVEIWED

We have now followed the history of Sunday from the time it was first mentioned by the Gnostic pseudo-Barnabas as the mysterious eighth day, until it stands out clearly and definitely as the first day of the week, called the Lord’s day. Not one of these Fathers has referred to Acts 20:7, to 1 Corinthians 16, or to Rev. 1:10 as the reason for its observance, nor has any allusion been made to any command of Christ or of the apostles for its observance. Not one of the Fathers base its observance on the Sabbath commandment, nor hint at the transference of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. On the contrary, some have taken the strongest grounds against the law or the Sabbath commandment or the literal observance of that commandment. None of the church Fathers, yea, no writer of the first five centuries, ever called Sunday the Sabbath. This name was only applied to the preceding or seventh day.

For the observance of Sunday they give, as Cox correctly says, "sundry other reasons of their own-- fanciful in most cases, and ridiculous in some."
These reasons are:

Therefore Cox draws the following conclusion about Sunday: “From which the inevitable inference is that they neither had found in Scripture any commandment--primeval, Mosaic, or Christian-- appointing the Lord’s day to be honoured or observed, nor knew from tradition any such command delivered by Jesus or his apostles.” 34

As to the nature of its observance, we have found that the church Fathers lay special stress on the fact that the Sabbath commandment did not demand a cessation from labour, but rather a perpetual cessation from sin and spiritual rest in Christ and, consequently, Sunday was not to be a day of rest from work so much as it was to be a day of joy, marked by the celebration of the Lord’s supper by prayer, and by the absence of fasting. Easter and Pentecost were held in equal esteem with Sunday, or even in greater esteem.

If we note the names applied to the day, we find it fist introduced under the name of eight day then sun-day, and first day of the week; from the beginning of the third century the term Lord’s day is used interchangeably for the first day of the week and for the perpetual day of the gospel dispensations. From these evidences and from the fact that the Sabbath was still observed by a part of the Christian community, it is clear that Sunday came in on independent grounds; that it was a human institution resting on tradition; that its observance was but voluntary; and that it was an assembly day rather than a rest day.

That First-day writers who claim Sunday to be a divine institution based on the fourth commandment are not satisfied with the way the church Fathers have treated Sunday, is very apparent from their own admissions. For example: Hengstenberg says, “The idea of a transference of Sabbath into Sunday is unknown to all Christian antiquity.” Dr. Schaff says that the ante-Nicene church “did not fully appreciated the perpetual obligation of the fourth commandment in its substance as a weekly day of rest;” and that “there was disposition to disparage the Jewish law in the zeal to prove the independent originality of Christian institutions,” 35
Again, that "the ancient church viewed the Sunday mainly. . .one-sidedly and exclusively, from its Christian aspect as a new institution."36

Liebetrut, in his prize essay on Sunday, admits:

“All church Fathers are unanimous in repudiating the direct reference of Sunday observance to the Sabbath commandment. They declare that the Sabbath commandment is not binding on the church, and assert a peculiar position of Sunday as the day of Christ. Instead of finding reasons for Sunday observance in the law of the Old Testament, they are everywhere far from it, and even so regardless oppose this view that they are in danger of looking altogether away from the foundation principles on which any Christian festival could rest.” 37

These admissions of leading Sunday advocates-- a few samples of the many that might be adduced-- reveal the striking fact that their position concerning the Sunday institution differs very materially from that of the Fathers. While the Fathers, in order to introduce this new weekly memorial, had to set aside the only commandment on which any weekly rest can be maintained b a church accepting the Bible alone, and to engraft a scion from a strange religious cult in commemoration of important Christian events, the Protestant church of today, though attempting to substantiate the introduction of Sunday by the testimony of the Fathers, and thus by tradition, has, in order to maintain Sunday as a rest day, to adopt as the basis of its observance the very commandment thus rejected by the Fathers. A strange medley indeed.

But while the originators of Sunday and its present advocates differ so widely from one another that the latter reject the very basis on which it was introduced by the former, we, for our part, would point to the material difference existing between these two parties as an evident proof for the correctness of our position concerning the introduction of Sunday. As God's law is eternal and of universal application, and as the Sabbath institution is fixed by it on a definite day of the week for the benefit of man, regardless of nationality, time, or place, no new weekly memorial could be introduced to supplant the one already existing, without the rejection of the very basis on which the new institution could be maintained. To this the church fathers assent by rejecting the Sabbath command as the basis of this new institution, and to this the present champions of Sunday assent, by appealing to the fourth commandment to maintain Sunday. Thus, while the Sunday of the Fathers differs from that of the Protestant church in its very basis, yet the testimony of the Fathers furnishes the following striking similarities between their Sunday and the pagans sun-day:--

CONCLUSIONS DRAWN

No less remarkable is the fact that, while the Gnostic and the philosopher engrafted this pagan day onto Christianity to commemorate an important event, without reference to any definite law and enjoining nothing but a spiritual rest, the bishop of Rome, seemingly the materialization of legality, became the outspoken sponsor of this illegal child, and effected the union, making the Gnostic and the philosopher subservient to its cause. Furthermore, this new institution comes into prominence and assumes a new title at the very time when the sun eminently worshiped in the Oriental cults, becomes, as such, the leading deity of the pagans in the Roman empire, and Christ, as the Sun of righteousness, is the leading object of worship in the Roman Christian world, and the bishop of Rome, its champion in the church, is the leading ruler as lord of the bishops; and thus the day, as the common object of veneration by all as the lord of the days, is fitly styled by its syncretical name, the Lord’s day.

We will let Cyprian, the great champion of Roman primacy, tell us how far the apostasy advanced in the church at this time:==

"Forgetful of what believers had either don before in the times of the apostles, or always ought to do, they, with the insatiable ardour of covetousness, devoted themselves to the increase of their property." "Among the ministers there was no sound faith: in their works there was no mercy: in their manners there was no disciple.” “Crafty frauds were used to deceive the hearts of the simple, subtle meanings for circumventing the brethren. They united in the bond of marriage with unbelievers; they prostituted the members of Christ to Gentiles. They would swear not only rashly, but even more, would swear falsely;. . .would speak evil of one another with envenomed tongue, would speak evil of one another with envenomed tongue, would quarrel with one another with obstinate hatred. Very many bishops who ought to furnish both exhortation and example to others despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business, forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brethren were starving in the church.” 38

The Catholic Church, adopting the tradition as its chief r8ule, and following the sayings of men rather than the commands of god, and no longer dependent upon the divine arm, longed for the arm of flesh to uphold its authority and to secure its unity against rending schisms, and the Sunday institution, as it possessed no just basis for its observance, needed the authority of civil and ecclesiastical legislation to assure its maintenance. Paganism and philosophized Christianity became so closely affiliated that believers in both systems could freely intermarry, and, naturally enough, it would be but the ultimate result that there should grow up a union between the state of Rome and the church of Rome; and whenever the restraining power would be far enough removed to admit of such a union, then the mystery of lawlessness would manifest. That this mystery of lawlessness was the natural outgrowth of spiritualising away the law of God and the rest day by the Gnositc, philosopher, and Roman bishop in succession, an anonymous author of that time thus attests: --

"As Christ is the end of the law, those who are without law are without Christ; therefore the people who are without the law are without Christ." 39

Sunday appears in the writings of all the Fathers without law-- yea, it is in opposition to it; therefore, it is without Christ, and as Sunday is without Christ, it is not the Christian Lord's day; but, as the day of the sun, it is the pagan Lord’s day of the Christianized "Lord of the bishops."


1.Tertullian's Apology, chp. 37 Return>

2. Gibbons, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” chp. 6, par. 24 Return>

3. Milman, “History of Christianity,” b. 2, 9, par. 7 Return>

4. Gunkel, “Zum Relionsgesh. Verstaendniss des N.T“., Goettingen, 1903, pp. 74-76 Return>

5. Clement, “Miscellanies,” b.7, secs.42,43. Return>

6. Commentaries, cent. 2, sec. 25, note 2 Return>

7. Second period, par. 186, p. 783 Return>

8. “Miscellanies,” b. 5, chap. 14 Return>

9. “Miscellanies,” b. 7, chap. 12 Return>

10. Ibid, b. 7 chap 12 Return>

11. Ibid, b. 7, chap. 7 Return>

12. Ibid, b. 6, chap. 16 “Gnostic Exposition of the Decalogue,” Return>

13. “The Sabbath,” p. 378 Return>

14. Cox, Vol. I, p. 344 Return>

15. Second period, par. 196, pp. 822-824 Return>

16. Ibid. p. 821 Return>

17. “History of Dogma”, vol. 2 chap. 5, p. 311, note I Return>

18. In 2 Kings 4: 23, we read: “It is neither new moon, nor Sabbath,” Return>

19. “Against Marcion” b. 4, chap. 12 Return>

20. “Answer to the Jews,” chap. 4 Return>

21. Ad Nationes, Book 1, chap. 13, The charge of Worshiping the Sun
Return>
Note-- In chapter 12, of Ad Nationes-- The charge of worshipping a cross. The heathen themselves made much of crosses in sacred things, with displays, parades and necklaces, etc.

22. “Library of the Fathers” Oxfprd., 1842, “Of the Crown,” secs. 3,4,15 Return>

23. “Concerning Prayer,” chap. 23 Return>

24. “History of the Christian Church” second period. par, 187 p. F92. Return>

25. “History of Dogma,” 2, 333. Return>

26. “Ancient Church,” second period, sec. 2, chap. I. Return>

27. De Principiis, b. 2, chap. 7. Return>

28. B. 6, chap. 61 Return>

29. Celsus, b,. 8, chaps, 21,22. Cox, vol. I, pp, 246, 247 Return>

30. Cyprian’s Epistles, No. 58, sec. 4. Ante-Nicene Christian Library vol. 8, p. 196. Return>

31. “Instructions of Commodian,” sec. 61 Return>

32. “Creation of the World,” ante-Nicene Christina Library, vol. 18, p. 391 Return>

33. Peter’s Canon, No. 15. Return>

34. Vol. I p. 353. Return>

35. “History of the Christian Church,” vol. I pp. 202-205. Return>

36. Id. Third period, vol. I p. 279 Return>

37. Die Sonntagsfeier, Hamburg. 1851, pp. 33-35 Return>

38. “On the Lapsed,” chap. 6, Ante-Nicene Library 8, pp. 354, 355 Return>

39. Pseudo-Cyprian De XII, abusive saeculi, chap. 12, quoted in Harnack's “History of Dogman” 6. P. 26, note I. Return>


History of the Sabbath, Table of Contents